Beyond the worrying figures of the economy, it is a deep social crisis which begins after the health crisis of the coronavirus. Thursday, the subject will be at the heart of a meeting which will bring together at the Élysée all the unions and employers' organizations around Emmanuel Macron and Édouard Philippe. How to preserve employment and support the most vulnerable? The warnings are multiplying. And the latest alert comes from the National Energy Ombudsman, who is worried about an increase in fuel poverty.
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Overdue proceedings jumped 17% in 2019
Already in 2019, well before the coronavirus crisis, arrears procedures had jumped by 17%. That is 100,000 more interventions than in 2018. And this has resulted in reductions or even complete energy cuts. This is the highest figure to date ever recorded by the National Energy Ombudsman in six years of monitoring.
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The most complicated situation concerns electricity, whose prices increased last year. The Ombudsman also notes a tightening of the recovery policies of certain suppliers who can terminate a contract and therefore cut off electricity or gas at the first unpaid amount.
What about precarious individuals at the end of the winter break?
And even if, for the moment, individuals are protected by the winter truce, extended until July 10 due to the health crisis, this will not last as reminded by Frédérique Feriaud, director of services of the national mediator of the energy. "There will be a few months during which suppliers will be able to request power cuts so we are worried because we are aware of the financial difficulties of some, aggravated by the crisis," she said. "Now we hope that the suppliers will be kind and more flexible."
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Some suppliers have already committed to it. But for others, particularly new market entrants, it remains difficult to be flexible because they too are experiencing financial difficulties linked to the epidemic crisis. The president of the Federation of Solidarity Actors, Louis Gallois, pleads for an increase in social assistance and taxes.